At the end of 2008, the pulp and paper plant where Tina Wixon worked was bought out, and the new owners brought with them a series of temporary layoffs. Wixon, now 52, says that was the push she needed to finally follow her dream of becoming a nurse.

The Kelso, Washington resident spent two years at Lower Columbia College to complete prerequisite work, before earning her bachelor’s degree through Western Governors University in Utah. She enjoys her new career so much that she’s considering a master’s degree in nursing informatics.

Known as encore careers or recareering, second careers may be particularly appealing to older workers who are either ready for a change or find themselves unemployed and with few options in their current field. About 4.5 million workers between ages 50 and 70 have second careers and another 21 million are expected to join them within the next five years, according to Encore.org.

If you, too, are ready for a change of pace, here are seven tips to get started.

1. Decide whether to get a job or a business.
A second career may take one of two forms. Some, like Wixon’s, involve changing fields and finding a new job. Others choose to start a business as their second career.

Joni Petty, owner and president of Jepco Recycling Resources in Phoenix, chose the second route. A former human resources professional, Petty was looking for something more meaningful in her life. Thanks to a connection through her local chamber of commerce, she discovered businesses had a need for recycling consulting services.

“It was an unmet need,” Petty says. “You can’t imagine the waste that goes on.”

It was also a business that dovetailed with her passion for the environment. At age 50, she started Jepco in 2012, and it is now a full-service recycling resource for large and small industries.

The decision to pursue a new job or start a business is highly personal. It may be quicker to land a new job, but once established, a business could provide more stability. Consider your personal goals, skills and preferences when deciding which option is right for you.

 

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